Pen (church)

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The center of the Princely Monastery of Kempten with the parish and collegiate church of St. Lorenz and the abbot's residence .

A pin ( neuter , plural : pins or rarely Stifter ), each equipped with legacies and rights specific to religious objects and a spiritual entity transferred (donated) institution with all its people, buildings and properties.


The founders of these institutions were usually kings, dukes or wealthy noble families. Their motivation was at the same time religious (securing their own soul salvation) and political.

The oldest institutions of this type are the monasteries , after which the canonical life of the clergy at cathedrals and collegiate collegiate churches was modeled later . The customs of the Augustinian canons and the Premonstratensians are similar to monastic rules . Unlike these regular canons, secular canons and canons in episcopal churches are not entirely part of the community, but can have private property and income.


Clerical communities and women's communities

Collegiate churches / collegiate colleges

In contrast to the cathedral churches associated with the mining and high pins with one archbishop or bishop at the head of the collegiate, which board no bishop, were named collegiate . The members of the same lived together in one building and were supported by the proceeds of part of the monastery property and tithes .

Cathedral chapter

The cathedral chapters were formed , whose members, the canonici , called themselves capitulars , cathedral , choir or canons . As a result of the frequent entry of nobles, they withdrew from the obligation to live together ( cloister ) as early as the 11th century , ate their prebenders individually in special official apartments, but continuously formed a college distinguished by rights and income, which has been accepting new members since the 13th century The capitulars had to decide to lead the provisional administration of the diocese when a bishopric was settled ( Sedisvakanz ) and to elect the new bishop from among his number. Cathedral monasteries formed imperial estates with the rank of princes in the Holy Roman Empire. Canons in a prince-bishopric formed the core of a bishopric . With these direct monasteries and ore monasteries, the canons had to prove their ability to be a monastery through 16 ancestors ; they had become supply institutions for the younger sons of the nobility ( pin nobility ). While these noble capitulars reserved the enjoyment of all the rights of their canonicals , the spiritual functions were imposed on the regular canons, which explains the difference between the secular canons (Canonici sæculares), who are the actual capitulars, and the regulated canons (Canonici regulares).

Women pens

In addition to the arch, collegiate and collegiate monasteries, there are also female pens, spiritual and secular. The former emerged from an association of regulated women choirs and resembled monasteries; In the case of the free secular founders (such as the Essen Abbey and the Börstel Abbey ), on the other hand, the canons or capitulars only took the vows of chastity or celibacy and obedience to their superiors, but they can marry if they renounce their benefices , and have the freedom to consume the income they receive from the monastery wherever they want. Only the provostess or, depending on the monastery, the abbess and headess, along with a small number of canonesses, usually stay in the monastery building. In many cases, the nobility eligible for a foundation knew how to obtain the benefices of these pens exclusively for their daughters, but the acceptance often also depends on a purchase price. Abbey posts have also been created for the daughters of well-deserved officials. The canonesses these "free world noblewomen pins" are now usually canonesses called.

Pens in the broader sense and imperial immediacy

In the history of science and in the handbooks it is customary to also refer to monasteries and nunneries as pens. This is done in deliberate differentiation from the terms imperial monastery / imperial abbey , which are primarily related to the Middle Ages.

Within the Holy Roman Empire, pens understood in this way were considered direct from the empire if they had to pay their taxes directly to the Roman-German king or emperor. They were thus in principle independent of a sovereign . It was less common to raise a pen to an empire or district . Most of the pens were therefore not represented in the Reichstag at all or only on prelate benches.

Before the secularization decreed by the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss of February 25, 1803, the ecclesiastical territories (ore or high monasteries) Cologne , Mainz , Trier , Salzburg , Augsburg , Bamberg , Basel , Brixen , Chur , Eichstätt , Freising , Hildesheim , Constance had as imperial monasteries , Lübeck , Lüttich , Münster , Osnabrück , Paderborn , Passau , Regensburg , Speyer , Strasbourg , Trient , Worms , Würzburg as well as some prince provosts (including Berchtesgaden , Ellwangen ) and prince abbeys (such as Corvey , Fulda , Kempten (Allgäu) ) sovereignty and voting rights at the Reichstag and were respected equally to the principalities . In other countries the pens had never gained such great power.

Pens during the Reformation and Secularization

Reformed cathedral monastery of St. Peter and Paul zu Bardowick 1720

Even in the countries that became Protestant during the Reformation , the monasteries and cathedral chapters mostly remained, but without a bishop and without sovereignty, and their income was given out as sinecures . The only exceptions were the completely Protestant prince-bishopric of Lübeck and the chapter of Osnabrück, which consisted of mixed capitulars . Now all donors are indirect, i. H. subject to the sovereignty of the sovereign concerned.

The secularized and Protestant monasteries often retained their own constitution and administration; but mostly their students were turned into pensions , which were sometimes connected with scholarly positions. In the former Prussia , the Protestant cathedral chapter of Brandenburg an der Havel and the United Cathedral Founders , which were formed in 1930 as a foundation under public law from the cathedral monasteries in Merseburg and Naumburg and the collegiate monastery in Zeitz , are noteworthy.

In Austria today most of the monasteries are still called “Stift”. Numerous social or educational institutions run by a foundation , often with a church background, also bear the name “Stift”.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Sarah Hadry: Empire pins in Swabia. In: Historical Lexicon of Bavaria . October 5, 2010, accessed October 21, 2010 .
  2. ^ United Cathedral Donors to Merseburg and Naumburg and the Zeitz Collegiate Foundation
  3. Examples: Stiuft Neuzelle , Evangelisches Johannesstift Berlin , Paul-Gerhardt-Stift zu Berlin